Going back to one’s roots and passion

Steve Sablan, left, and Jay Wolfe are the men behind Saipan Brewery Co. They encourage people to drink beer made here on Saipan and are hoping to put Saipan on the map for its beer. (Bea Cabrera)

Steve Sablan, left, and Jay Wolfe are the men behind Saipan Brewery Co. They encourage people to drink beer made here on Saipan and are hoping to put Saipan on the map for its beer. (Bea Cabrera)

Steve Sablan and Jay Wolfe were brought together by a shared affinity for beer. In particular, the two have a shared love for craft beer.

Sablan, who was born on Saipan but whose family had migrated to California, returned to Saipan two years ago with the idea of starting a microbrewery.

Wolfe came to Saipan at the prodding of a friend and fell in love with the place. Through friends, he heard about Sablan who was getting known for his home brews.

That started what would later become Saipan Brewing Co.

“I’ve always had Saipan on my mind, coming back and making a difference,” Sablan said, who now manages the new company.

In Sablan’s case, he discovered his passion for microbrewery in California. His love for beer led him to craft beers.

“I had my first taste and I was hooked. I then went around trying out different tastes. With craft beers, it is just not about drinking beer, it is all about matching the flavors and taste.”

“I went back to Saipan two years ago because of family and the possibility of starting a brewery. My original plan was to start a small one but when I met Jay, the prospects became bigger.”

At that time, Wolfe was making his own beer at his home on Saipan. It was through friends that he heard about Sablan, and he decided to look for him to share the hobby.

“We were brought together by beer. Because of our shared passion, we teamed up and started brewing together. We started brewing so much beer that friends loved it to a point that we had more than enough for ourselves. Eighteen months ago, we decided to do it professionally,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe is now business manager and brewer of Saipan Brewing Co. and, together with Sablan, they have been making a name for themselves and putting Saipan on the map, not only as a tourist destination but also one with the best local beer.

“Our relationship transitioned from being hobbyists to being business partners. There’s a lot of growth happening on island and we are currently understanding the demand of our market. We want to be known by people who live and come here,” Sablan said.

Saipan Brewing’s flagship beers are the Sirena Blonde, their lightest beer; Pau Pau Ale, a step up in flavor from the Blonde; and Hafa Adai IPA, their most aggressive because if its rich flavor and its very pronounced hops.

“We recently introduced fruit beers made from local ingredients: pineapple, toasted coconut, mango and banana,” said Sablan. “We use local ingredients to highlight the flavors of Saipan. We use all the resources available on the island.”

Saipan Brewing is planning to join international beer competitions and attending beer conferences to improve their products.

“We say ‘drink beer made here.’ We want Saipan to be proud of their local businesses and believe in the fact that you can produce things on Saipan that can go off island and other people can be interested,” said Wolfe. “Entrepreneurship is getting serious on island. People are giving local companies a chance.”

Sablan has found his way back to Saipan and believes he is home. “I am back home and living out my passion. I don’t have plans of going back to the mainland except to visit family. I believe in growing where you are rooted. We plan to keep making our company grow and stay dedicated to our customers.”


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